Album Review: Joey Cape / Tony Sly – Acoustic Volume 2

Has it really been been 8 years since Tony Sly and Joey Cape released their first solo album collectively?  I can remember the day I heard cuts off that release and bragged to my close friends about it.  Soon they were just as hooked as I was with the acoustic renditions of Lagwagon and No Use For a Name (NUFAN) songs.

Hearing those punk rock songs acoustically was just something so new and exciting for this listener.  Keep in mind, this was before many of the punk musicians started their acoustic projects.  It was a new method of sorts and would pave a side road for punk rock music forever.  It’s save to say the revival was made possible by Cape and Sly.

Cape and Sly would continued with their solo careers separately after the release and both dropped some remarkable albums, but nothing was as memorable as their first attempt.  Over the past 8 years, Cape and Sly really built their reputation as solo artists and decided it was time again to take some of their classic songs and create acoustic renditions of them for all to head.  Needless to say when I found out via Fat Wreck Chords that Cape and Sly were releasing Acoustic Volume 2, I got a tad excited.

Once again the duo took 5 songs each from their back catalogs and turned them into acoustic masterpieces.  To keep with the idea of their original attempt, they both wrote and recorded brand new tracks to add to the mix.  The result is a sequel to an amazing release that follows the same path of awesomeness.

Cape took the first half of the album and started it with “I Must Be Hateful” taken from 2003’s Blaze. The already amazing song sounded more powerful than ever when broke down into acoustic form.  Cape loses the rasp in his voice and gently sings with assistance from soft piano.

“Know It All” was one of my favorite tracks off of 1994’s Trashed, and 18 years later it continued to impress me on a different caliber.  “Alison’s Disease”, originally found on Live Fat, Die Young, was a tearjerker to listen to.  I remember the original on the Fat Wreck compilation, but this round was almost as hard to listen to as Fat Mike’s acoustic version of “My Orphan Year”.  Amazing on how slowing down a song can unleash so much emotion.

I was so happy to hear “Resolve” on this release.  Listening to Cape play a more folky version brought a smile to my face even though the track pays homage to their drummer Derrick Piourde who passed in 2005.  “Broken Record”, Cape’s all new track, followed the same path as previous tracks with a mellow mood.  The song perked up half way through but ended just as soon as it started.

Sly took over the remainder of the album with a powerful version of “Black Box”.  Maybe it was the accordion in the background with piano and a strings section, but the new and improved version taken off the 2005 NUFAN release Keep Them Confused sounded better than ever.

“Soulmate” was my choice track off this release.  The track was already one of my favorites in the 90s on Leche con Carne! and hearing it all over again in a different way was just refreshing.  A new take on an old classic was just what I was looking to hear.  I could not help but feel the same way I did when I heard “Justified Black Eye” for the first time in acoustic form back in 2004.  It brought a smile to my face and I instantly sung along.

“Chasing Rainbows” was a fun take on the original found on More Betterness!, but overall I still preferred the 1999 original.  “Pre-Medicated Murder”sounded nothing like the version found on Hard Rock Bottom. The slowed down version was eerie in a sense to listen to and enhanced the lyrics so much more.

Sly’s original, “Liver Let Die”, was a barroom masterpiece in it’s own carried by strumming acoustic guitar.  The song was likable and held out an instant invite for me to learn the chorus and sing along.  The track ended with a crowd chanting “one more song, one more song” and to me was a perfect way to put this release to sleep.  It also provided for a taste of what Sly has in store for his listeners in future releases.

What happens when punk musicians age?  They grow up, maybe have a family, live life, but never put down the guitar.  If you are thinking that this album is “just another punk rock side project” you are wrong.  This album is a celebration by two men and their career featuring some classic songs.  I am glad I only had to wait 8 years for this because honestly, 10 years might have been too long.

If you like NUFAN and Lagwagon, chances are you already know about Acoustic Volume 2.  If you dig acoustic music, check it out, you will not be disappointed.  Punk rock or not, this duo make for some amazing renditions of classic cuts I feel many can appreciate regardless of what genre of music is preferred.

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